The mission of the Foram Farm is to experimentally investigate how changing temperature and water chemistry affect shell chemistry in foraminifera in order to establish a chronology of glacial ice volume and ocean temperatures that spans the last 100 million years. This work leverages expertise from other aquaculture colonies at Iowa State and around the world and eventually could expand its focus to study other marine invertebrates.
The Foram Farm has been in operation since January 2014 and currently houses Peneroplids from the UAE and Qatar.
The Foram Farm consists of two systems: the Colony System and the Experimental System.
The Colony System houses foraminifera in "normal" ocean conditions. It is essentiall a salt water aquarium modified to maintain long-term cultures of benthic foraminifera. It was designed and built by Deserae Jennings as part of her Masters Thesis. Here is an image of the Colony System installed in our lab.
The Experimental System consist of a series of research-grade refridgerators, each set to a different temperature, that house experimental microcosms with different seawater chemistries. Here is an image of the Experimental Lines installed in our lab.
We have experimented with both petri dishes and Mason jars as microcosms. We have had the best luck with Mason jars because they reduce evaporation. Here is an image of a petri dish experiment. Note that the grow lights to promote algal symbionts in culturing foraminifera as well as the plastic reservoirs of that keep change water at the appropriate temperature.